• ‘Willemse is a special talent’

    Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids has defended Damian Willemse after his performance in the Springbok Showdown at Newlands on Saturday.

    Willemse cut a frustrated figure as the Springbok Gold side lost 25-9 to the Springbok Green team during this past weekend’s error-filled match.

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    Before the match, there was plenty of hype around the battle between Willemse and the more experienced Elton Jantjies, with the Stormers player getting an opportunity to show what he can do at flyhalf.

    However, Willemse ultimately struggled behind a pack which battled to get the kind of momentum and clean service that he would have enjoyed.

    The 22-year-old missed a couple of penalties just before half time, which would have drawn the Gold team level at the break, while he was also yellow-carded for cynically obstructing Green wing Yaw Penxe, which resulted in a penalty try.

    Speaking after the match, Davids, who took charged of Gold, said he was confident that Willemse would have learned from his performance and will bounce back for his franchise in the coming weeks.

    ‘We all know that Damian is a special talent and he can win you games,’ Davids said.

    ‘Obviously, rugby players go through the cycle where they maybe don’t have one of the best nights and he just didn’t have one of his best evenings.’

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    Davids said that the stop-start nature of the match, were both teams struggled to play fluid, attacking rugby with new combinations, contributed to Willemse’s performance.

    ‘We were a bit under pressure and the conditions were a bit difficult,’ Davids explained.

    ‘It’s early in the season and with his experience and with his ability, I think he is a player that will bounce back and he would have learned under these conditions and the pressure that was there tonight [Saturday].

    ‘I think he will come out stronger next time.’

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    Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images